Retired Math Teacher Turns NES Zapper Into Musical Instrument

Retired Math Teacher Turns NES Zapper Into Musical Instrument

Lasers and light guns get together to make some beautiful - or at least interesting - music.

Using electronics know-how, an old NES Zapper, and plans that he found in a magazine, a retired math teacher, known only as "duboisvb," built his very own Theremin-style musical instrument. It took a little trial and error to get the thing working, but the Zapper - or at least its shell - proved to be the thing that turned the tables.

A Theremin is an odd instrument, in that you don't actually have to touch it in order to play it. Theremin's use radio waves to detect the position of the player's hands, and then translate that position into particular sounds. Duboisvb's version operates on a similar principle, but it uses a laser rather than radio waves, and plays a range of MIDI sounds, rather than generating a tone on its own.

The device is based around a microcontroller that can connect to a computer via a MIDI jack. Duboisvb's original design used a simple laser pointer to provide the beam necessary to make the instrument work, but he found it very difficult to mount it properly. The breakthrough came when he swapped his original mounting for the NES Zapper. He hollowed out the Zapper, which despite being a "light gun," doesn't actually generate any light itself, and put the pointer in the shell. This made it much easier for him to get everything lined up right and to get the whole thing working.

It's not going to be an instrument that someone is going to compose symphonies on, but it looks like it's capable of making some really interesting music. I'd love to the see the Super Mario Bros. theme, or maybe the Legend of Zelda theme played on it; it seems rather fitting.

Source: Instructables


I always found Theremins to be rather interesting in terms of music. Looks like a pretty cool setup and I'd love to see the SMB theme or something like that played on it as well...perhaps while wearing a power glove.

Now all we need is a cat playing it, like a keyboard, and my life will be complete :D

(typo in the article.... probably should be properly)

Interesting idea... shame it's only the shell, but still cool all the same lol.

Now all we need is a cat playing it, like a keyboard, and my life will be complete :D

Darnit... if only had a cat... and a light zapper. Hrm. This just isn't going to work out.

This is exactly something I could imagine one of my math/computer teachers doing after he retires.

Pretty cool, I love Theramins, I wanna get one


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